If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. In most jurisdictions, you can recover from a dog bite based on either common law or statutory liability. The personal injury lawyers at our DC law firm will critically analyze your needs to ensure your maximum recovery.
In jurisdictions where recovery is based on the common law, you must prove that: the defendant owned or possessed the animal, the animal had dangerous propensities abnormal to its class, the defendant knew or had reason to know the animal had dangerous propensities and those propensities were the cause of plaintiff’s injury. In jurisdictions where a statute provides recovery for dog bites, the effect is removing the common law requirement of proving the owner or keeper of the animal knew that the animal had dangerous propensities.
Washington DC has enacted a “Dangerous Dog Statute” to protect individuals from dangerous dogs. The DC legislature has defined a dangerous dog as one which “causes a serious injury to a person or domestic animal.” D.C. Code § 8-1901.
Under the DC Dangerous Dog Statute, a dog is not considered dangerous if: (1) a person who, at the time of injury, was committing a willful trespass upon the premises lawfully occupied by the owner; (2) a person who, at the time of injury, was provoking, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or has repeatedly, in the past, provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog; (3) a person or domestic animal because, at the time of injury, the dog was responding to injury, or was protecting itself or its offspring; or (4) a person or domestic animal because, at the time of injury, the dog was protecting or defending a human being within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an attack or assault. D.C. Code § 8-1902. The burden of proof is on the owner to show that one of the factors above is satisfied. D.C. Code § 8-1902.
If it has been determined that the dog is dangerous, “the Mayor, after providing notice to the owner of the probable cause determination, may obtain a search warrant… [to] impound the dog pending final disposition of the case.” D.C. Code § 8-1902. Within 5 to 10 days, there is a hearing at which the owner of the dog has an opportunity to present evidence as to why his dog should not be adjudicated as a dangerous dog. D.C. Code § 8-1902.
According to D.C. Code § 8-1904, a dog owner may be able to keep a dog which has been adjudicated as dangerous if he/she registers the dangerous dog which requires that: (1) the owner of the potentially dangerous dog is 18 years of age or older, (2) a valid license has been issued for the potentially dangerous dog pursuant to District law, (3) the potentially dangerous dog has current vaccinations, (4) the owner has a proper enclosure, as determined by the Mayor, to confine the potentially dangerous dog, (5) the owner has paid an annual fee in an amount to be determined by the Mayor, in addition to regular dog licensing fees, to register the potentially dangerous dog, (6) the potentially dangerous dog has been spayed or neutered, (7) the potentially dangerous dog has been implanted with a microchip containing owner identification information and (8) the owner has written permission of the property owner, if the dog owner is not the property owner, and from a homeowner’s association, if appropriate, to house the dog on the premises where the dog will be kept. D.C. Code § 8-1904.
The Mayor is permitted to destroy a dangerous dog if: (1) the dog has been determined to be a threat to public safety; (2) if the owner of the dog does not comply with D.C. Code § 8-1904, (3) the owner fails to reimburse the costs and expenses of a dog’s impoundment, or (4) if the owner forfeits the dog. D.C. Code § 8-1903.
In the event that the dog owners fails to obtain a valid registration, or keeps a dangerous dog in contradiction of D.C. Code § 8-1905 (which describes the responsibilites of an owner of a dangerous dog) will be “subject to a fine not to exceed $500, imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both for a first offense, and a fine not to exceed $1,000, imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both for a second or subsequent offense.” D.C. Code § 8-1906. Furthermore, “An owner of a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog that causes serious injury to or kills a human being or a domestic animal without provocation shall be fined up to $10,000.” D.C. Code § 8-1906.
Our attorneys will fight for you to achieve the best result and to maximize your recovery for your injuries. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite and you would like to learn more how you can recover, please contact the Washington DC personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Klaproth Law to speak with a representative and to schedule a free consultation to assess your legal recovery.
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